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North Bergen adopts ordinance to help monitor foreclosed properties

The changes to the ordinance involve when the township is alerted of a foreclosure and related fees

The North Bergen Board of Commissioners meet in the council chambers at Town Hall at 4233 Kennedy Boulevard. Photo by Art Schwartz.

Mayor Nicholas Sacco and the North Bergen Board of Commissioners have taken action toward monitoring and addressing foreclosed properties.

At its September 7 meeting, the board adopted an ordinance “superseding ordinances requiring the registration and maintenance of certain real property by mortgagees, providing for penalties and enforcement, as well as the regulation, limitation and reduction of abandoned real property within the township of North Bergen.”

Breaking down the details of the ordinance

According to the ordinance, mortgage foreclosure has serious negative implications for communities attempting to manage the consequences of properties that are subject to foreclosure or have been foreclosed upon.

“Often times, the foreclosing party or property owners are an absentee responsible party, and there is no local contact for said property, which makes it difficult to notice the proper part of violations of the township ordinances, and to maintain the requisite level of maintenance and security of such structures or lots,” the ordinance states.

The ordinance states that properties subject to foreclosure action or foreclosed upon can lead to a decline in property value, create nuisances, and lead to a general decrease in neighborhood and community aesthetics. According to the ordinance, “properties that are neglected and have unsecured, accessible structures have a negative impact on community value, create conditions that invite criminal activity, and foster an unsafe and unhealthy environment for children.”

North Bergen previously adopted property maintenance codes to regulate building standards for the exterior of structures and the condition of the property within the township as a whole. According to the ordinance, now the township recognizes that a more regulated method is needed to discouraged registrable property owners and mortgagees from allowing their properties to be abandoned, neglected or left unsupervised and unattended, in order to best serve the interests of the public health, safety and welfare.

The township intends to amend the process to address the deterioration, crime and decline in value of its neighborhoods caused by properties subject to foreclosure action or foreclosed upon located in the township. According to the ordinance, it is the township’s intent to amend the registration requirement as a mechanism to protect neighborhoods from the negative impact and conditions that occur as a result of vacancy, lack of adequate property maintenance and security and will provide a method to expeditiously identify a contact person for each property responsible for this protection.

Better addressing issues with foreclosed properties

At the September meeting, Township Attorney Tom Kobin explained the changes in the ordinance at the request of Mayor Sacco.

“This ordinance really deals with the properties that are foreclosed upon and vacant problem properties,” Kobin said. “We had adopted an ordinance, probably in 2017, where we required banks or mortgage companies that maintain properties to register the properties with the township. They have to put us on notice when we foreclose anyway. But we had adopted an ordinance, it was little more broad in that they had to notify us when a property was in default, things like that.”

Kobin explained that the ordinance was clarifying that the township only needed to be notified when the property was foreclosed on. He added that the ordinance also adjusts fees to what is allowed per recent state legislation.

“In January of this year, the legislation that come out that set the fees you could charge,” Kobin said. “So we modified our fees to match the legislation and indicated to require notification only when foreclosure happens. We’re really just having the ordinance now match the legislation that’s out there. This is so we can monitor to keep on file properties that were foreclosed upon and might become abandoned.”

Sacco said the township has issues with abandoned properties, which can sometimes take years to address. By monitoring them through the ordinance, the township hopes to avoid further issues.

“We’ve had issues with these over the years,” Sacco said. “I remember one that actually took almost ten years… on 74th Street I think it was. It took years of trying to deal with it… Hopefully this will help. The state also passed legislation that may be helpful.”

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com.

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